Belfast Telegraph

Boost for economy as global business will bring in £48m

By Emma Deighan

The conference sector in NI is evolving and investment from business service providers has seen an emergence of sophisticated spaces and facilities that cater to a more discerning event host.

The Meetings, Incentive Conference and Events (MICE) market is set for growth this year with 58 conferences already confirmed for Belfast. Over 25 of those conferences are national and international events and together they will occupy 11,300 rooms generating £48m.

And the hospitality sector is responding to this growth, said Tourism NI business solutions manager, Eimear Callaghan: “We are experiencing a huge growth in hotels with 1,200 new rooms coming on stream either through new hotels or additions to existing hotels. New hotel developments in Belfast alone include the Maldron, the Marriott AC Hotel, Hastings’ Grand Central and Hampton by Hilton. Plans have also been approved for the 152-bed Ebrington Hotel in Derry~Londonderry. Conference delegates are also keen to explore Northern Ireland in their leisure time and Tourism NI works with its partners to encourage delegates to explore the wider destination while here on business.”

One of the most notable investments to capture this market is Belfast Waterfront’s recent £29.5m 7,000m2 conference centre which was unveiled in 2016.

Eimear said the compact makeup of both Belfast and Derry-Londonderry is a big draw for the business traveller. “Northern Ireland offers easy access and compact walkable cities in both Belfast and Derry~Londonderry, making it easy and convenient for delegates to explore the city. Delegates often note the friendliness of the locals whilst conference organisers comment on the “Team Northern Ireland” approach where key tourism agencies, venues and suppliers work closely together to make things happen. This is highly valued and one of our key selling points.”

A first for NI, and indeed anywhere this side of the Atlantic, is set to further boost NI’s corporate reputation added Eimear: “In the incentive market, Belfast is the chosen destination for the Hosts Global Forum 2018, where up to 200 of the world’s top destination management companies and meetings and incentives planners and buyers will descend on the city in June, the first time the event has been held on this side of the Atlantic. Their collective buying power is around $2bn so this presents an amazing opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland, our experiences, facilities and world-famous hospitality.”

Another key events this comping to Belfast this year include the European Social Science History Conference which will bring 1,500 delegates.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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